BEIRUT: Lebanon’s budget deficit in the first seven months of 2013 surged to 26.24 percent compared to 16.34 percent in the same period of last year, the Finance Ministry said Friday.
According to a statement from the Finance Ministry, the budget deficit up to July reached LL3.121 trillion (just over $2 billion) from LL1.762 trillion in the same period of last year.
The primary surplus, excluding the cost of debt servicing, fell to LL149 billion compared to a surplus of LL1.404 trillion through July 2012, a decrease of LL1.255 trillion.
The Finance Ministry said both falling government revenues and increasing state expenditures were behind the budget deficit.
Total government revenues up to July reached LL8.771 trillion, or a drop of 2.75 percent.
All tax and non-tax revenues fell between 1.67 percent to 15.21 percent.
The slump in revenues follows declines recorded over the past five months, statistics provided by the Finance Ministry show.
The allocations of the telecoms sector to the Finance Ministry in the first seven months dropped to LL1.068 trillion, or a decrease of 15.21 percent.
Customs, VAT and telecoms are the main three sources of revenues of the Lebanese treasury.
Total government spending in the reporting period swelled by 10.3 percent to LL11.892 trillion.
Excluding the cost of debt servicing on government bonds, expenditures increased to LL8.623 trillion from LL7.616 trillion in the same period of last year.
Caretaker Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi has said on many occasions that the presence of Syrian refugees in Lebanon was exacerbating the budget deficit, warning that the treasury could no longer sustain heavy losses if the donor states did not step in and alleviate the financial pressure on the country.
Safadi and a number of Lebanese officials held talks with U.S., World Bank and International Monetary Fund officials in Washington this week to seek financial assistance for Lebanon.
But it is still not clear whether Lebanon will secure concrete financial pledges from donor countries.